This weekend, Arizona State (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) is matched up with one of those dangerously average Pac-12 opponents in Washington State (4-4, 3-2) that can spontaneously find one of those weeks where everything clicks and turn a contender’s season upside down.
Maybe the Cougars already got their upset moment out of their system with their 31-24 victory over Oregon State three weeks. But if there was an offense designed to slay two conference dragons, it’s the aggressive design of the Cougars’ run-and-shoot offensive scheme.
Of course, nobody is tripping mistaking this Cougars team with the 1989 Houston Cougars offense that fostered a Heisman season for their quarterback Andre Ware. Still, the variety in the offense will keep the Sun Devils on their toes all day long. For these Cougars, it starts with the quarterback position.
No. 4 Quarterback Jayden de Laura (So.)
It hasn’t been an overwhelming season numbers-wise for de Laura with 15 touchdowns to six interceptions through eight games, but the sophomore has been an effective front-man for the Cougars offense.
Effective, but not spectacular was the theme in a 21-19 loss last week to BYU for de Laura. On one hand, his completion percentage was above 70% for the first time in conference play. On the other, he failed to find the end zone for the first time this season.
However, a pedestrian performance last week is not an indication of a continued trend, and should not set the expectation for this week. The man from Honolulu, Hawaii, also has a stat line of 32-46, 399 yards and three touchdowns this season. That came in the win over Oregon State, a team that is proving itself a serious threat in the Pac-12 as the season progresses.
No. 10 Defensive End Ron Stone Jr. (Jr.)
The pride of San Jose, California. Or is that the Doobie Brothers? Either way, Ron Stone Jr. is a problem on the football field for any offense matched up against him.
Did Arizona State clean up its pass protection in the bye week after the offensive line struggled against Utah? It won’t take long to find out with a player like Stone Jr. coming off the edge.
So far in 2021, the junior has four sacks and 41 tackles. He has continued to improve each year since his debut as a freshman, and will be a tough matchup for Sun Devil tackles Ben Scott and Kellen Diesch.
No. 21 Running Back Max Borghi (Sr.)
Borghi is tied for the second on the team in touchdowns with eight. For Borghi, his success has been more about the body of work than a few spectacular games. He has yet to eclipse 100 yards in any game this season, but he has found the end zone six times in his last three games.
Four receptions for 36 yards last week were Borghi’s best numbers as a receiver thus far. Not anything to overhaul the game plan for, but possibly something to think about for the Sun Devil defensive unit as they prepare for the versatile Cougars offense. se.